Featured TR: From Russia With Pow – First Descents in Frolikha

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Editor’s Note: Here’s another inspiring and entertaining trip-report taken from the splitboard.com forums. Splitting in Russia?! You gotta love it! See the original post here.

Introduction

It so happened, as a child after I read “Winnie the Pooh”, “Karlsson-on-the-Roof” and “The Jungle Book” I began to read adventure stories of Mark Twain, Thomas Mayne Reid and Rafael Sabatini and became excited by it. Glamour of far continent, tinkling of swords, whining case-shot, redoubtable Indians and noble heroes gave no rest to my child’s imagination. But the most interesting person to me was the first man who reached America – Christopher Columbus. The man, who made risky suggestions and started his cruise to far India, which was his dearest wish. And that joyful moment, when ships land and worn out crew goes ashore and finds amazed natives there, who see white people for the first time, like gods who went down from the serene.

Shapovalov Slava (translated by Metelya Dmitriy)
Shkedova Lubov
– Interested in taking a trip to Russia? Find out more: Nakurage.com

Nearly the same way looked Frolikha Reservation inspectors, when they saw skis and snowboards being taken out of our car.

– Are you going to ski here?
– Well, we’ll try.
– Nobody skies here. People do on Davan Pass. Why have you chosen this place?
– It’s a beautiful place. If there’ll be no way for riding, then we’ll just take a walk.
– Emmm-m, – inspector mumbled ambiguously.

So here we go! There are mountains, and it seems that there is snow on it, so, according to “the rule of freeride” – there must be freeride also.

The Beginning

This story began many years ago, when young Vova from Irkutsk, who was a sea cadet on Nothern Baikal was sailing by wonderful Ayaya bay. Being cut deep into the shore, the bay, it amazed the traveller with its beauty. But a freerider always stares at a mountain. So snowwhite summits, protruding out of emerald green Baikal shore taiga, won young rider’s heart forever, having affected him much.

– “What is this?” The young sailor asked his gray-haired captain.
– “This is Frolikha, my boy,”  answered the old Baikal salt, spitting his chew overboard.

And now, after years, we are standing in the middle of Baikal Lake and watching the same scenery, that Vova had seen (by the way, Vova has notably gained in strength since then), but everything is white – emerald green of taiga, unfortunately, has already gone in autumn.

Ayaya bay, our starting point, is situated 45 kilometers away from Severobaykalsk. The approach is simple – one hour by the ice of Baikal and you are there, but that kilometers differ from those you use to measure common roads. The whole hour you’d be watchful and ready to jump out of the car if the ice breaks (as for me – I kept my hand on the door handle all the way). It’s an unforgettable experience you might have.

The Lake

There’s a smooth snowmobile path from the Ayaya bay to Frolikha lake, which goes over a moderate pass with a smooth rise and descent. After nearly 6 kilometers of light ski touring you’d see illimitable space of the giant reservoir, lost in the mountains. Frolikha is a lake of glacial origin, which was formed during last glaciation of Nothern Baikal shore. Two glaciers (which formed Pravaya Frolikha and Levaya Frolikha rivers) collided and made a dam, which limited its’ outflow. In that way a huge lake, which area is 16 square kilometers, appeared.

The rest of our approach to chosen destination point (about 8 km) we expected to go by winter ice, covered with thick layer of spring snow. Unbelievably warm for this time of season temperatures and indefatigable sunlight turned snow into dense viscous slush. While we skinned the first halfway quite fast – the last 3 kilometers were like hell for tired travellers. Skis sank in the snow, we had to pull them out of heavy slush, huge backpacks pulled us down, there were treacherous thawed patches and icing. And only by 3 p.m. after 7 hours of “walking” the first descendants of stegoceras, having repeated their far ancestor’s feat, climbed to the sandy shore with cedars. It seemed, that the heaviest part was over.

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About The Author

Since I could walk, sliding around on some form of frozen water has been my passion, starting with skiing and hockey, then switching to snowboarding in middle school and never looking back. After moving back to my home state of Vermont, I found that resort riding just wasn't cutting it for me. So I skipped buying a season pass, and bought a splitboard. That first tour was the same ah-ha moment I had when I first strapped on a snowboard in middle school. When not splitboarding, I work in digital media, mountain bike, play hockey and enjoy all of the amazing beers the Green Mountain State has to offer. Look for me to write about gear, trip reports, tips and tricks and other miscellanea such as climate change, often with an east coast bent.

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